Number 13 in my occasional series of Empty Nest coping strategies

I started a list of coping strategies here (and continued it here) as a way to deal with the fact that my last son was leaving me for a life of academic and domestic bliss in Cardiff (he’s back now, but that’s another story). 

Here are the two sons. Obviously they don’t look like this any more or son 2 would encounter significant difficulties in reaching the door handle of his flat.

So far my list has consisted of ways to forget that one is no longer needed on a day-to-day basis by one’s spawn. Today I had a breakthrough. I found a way to make a redundant parent pleased to be free of dependents.

The secret is to go to a holiday attraction at half term.

The attraction we chose today was Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall. We chose it because there are otters (although it’s mainly birds) and there was a money-off voucher. I tried to persuade my friend H to come, but she said it’s a long and expensive journey on public transport from Bodmin just to look at some birds flapping. She tends to prefer animals that can kill you, so we were forced to go without her.

Once our spawn are old enough to scorch their own pizzas and disappear for days at a time, we forget what a phenomenal amount of hard work it is to look after small children. I think this is an evolutionary adaptation designed to make sure we don’t stop breeding in horror. Attending family holiday attractions is a foolproof way to recharge the memory. We stood in the queue at Paradise Park watching parents juggling chubby hands, bottles, bags, pushchairs, toys, lunchboxes and their sanity while warning, cajoling, jollying, reassuring, enthusing and willing their broods through the process of entering the park. How relaxing it was to just stand there watching. Not one shriek of distress or wail of demand was aimed at me. I was the luckiest person in Paradise Park (apart from the one who gets to feed the otters).

Lunch in the cafe was a further revelation. The entire place was rammed with families sating irritable children with comestibles. I sat with P at a sunny table peacefully supping tea and watching otters cavort outside while all around me was mayhem. Pale and rumpled parents were spooning squishy substances into gaping babyholes, picking up pieces of bashed fruit from the floor, persuading errant children to eat one more bite of sausage, begging toddlers to desist from shrieking, wiping up spills and faces and promising a go on the penny-squashing machine if brother would cease hitting sister while sister finishes her fizzy toxin in a cup. The noise of family life en masse was enough to shatter a vulnerable ear drum and cause involuntary infertility.

And none of it had anything to do with me. I am free. This empty nest thing – it’s not so bad.

Here are a few photos from the park.

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About throbbingsofnoontide

Bewildered human. Female. Looking for the next entertaining thing. I write a blog to share the bewilderment. It's here:
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10 Responses to Number 13 in my occasional series of Empty Nest coping strategies

  1. As an Empty Nester myself, I welcome you to the club! It’s a pleasure to go on airplanes without extra juice boxes (are they even allowed anymore, under the new restrictions?), nappies, bottles and toys (which always get lost in the seats); a wonderment to go to the cinema and not have a fidgeting child beside me, asking “why is Ariel doing that, Mummy?” 25 times in the first half-hour; a dream to no longer plan toddler birthday parties…
    I do miss all the rush and insanity sometimes, but then I sit back with my drink of choice, say a toast to a childhood photo of my babies, pick up my book and read the afternoon away.
    Great photos, I can see you had a wonderful outing.

    • It has occurred to me that the entire point of having children is to teach us how to properly appreciate every moment of life when they’ve gone. But that might be a bit harsh! Thanks for your comment.

  2. We are all growing up.

  3. ninano says:

    I could relate to all of this. I laughed. You seem to consider the surroundings with tenderness and indulgence. Thank you, I’ll be back.

  4. Ha, found this post while I’m beginning to cope with my eldest moving out to Lund for university studies. Only a few years ago I was terrified by the very thought of them moving out…now it’s quite OK. My worst fears are: How am I to find my way back to my husband? And if I won’t…?

    What a surprise to see that you’re connected to Sweden!

    • I think you’ll find it easy enough to re-connect. You’d know if it was all gone. I have found that I really quite like mine.

      Oh yes, half my family are Swedish so it’s rather shameful that I can’t speak the language. Although I can sort of understand some when spoken. I am a classic Brit – rubbish at other languages. *shame*

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